When you are running your own business, one of the most important decisions that you will have to make is what your weekly timetable will look like. An effective and well-planned schedule can be the difference between a hugely successful enterprise and a failed business.
So, how can you plan a weekly schedule that works for the needs of you and your business? Here, we will go into some of the factors that you should consider in order to develop your schedule.
Choose and Set Your Working Hours
The first thing that you will need to make a decision on is your daily working hours. In order to do this, you should consider what the most efficient times are to carry out your daily business operations. In many industries, working standard office hours (9am to 5 pm) or similar is what is expected and may be the best course of action. If you are working with clients, being accessible during standard office hours can result in maximum productivity and avoid clients or customers being frustrated by being unable to reach you.
If you are working in a less time-sensitive industry, you may be able to be more flexible with your hours of operation. You may also be serving clients in different time zones, which should be factored in. If you are free to choose the hours that suit you best (for example, if you are self-employed and work alone), think about what times of the day you are most productive, and what other commitments you have.
Assign Different Tasks to Different Days
Once you have set your working hours, you will need to fill in your timetable. A good tip for doing this is to use a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets can be very useful for this), or even a physical piece of paper stuck on a wall that you can follow to keep you on track as you work. Even if you vary your schedule sometimes, having a basic foundation to keep in mind can stop you from losing track of what you are doing and what tasks need to be done.
Trying to do too many different tasks at once can lead to confusion, stress, and not actually doing any task particularly well! Most people work most effectively by focusing on one task at a time. One useful tip can be to timetable certain tasks to certain days of the week. For example, you can assign marketing to Mondays, invoicing to Tuesdays, etc. If tasks do not take a full day, you can assign them to mornings, afternoons, or individual slots.
Assigning different tasks to different days also helps to keep your work schedule varied. This prevents boredom and losing focus, which can happen when carrying out the same task for too much time without a break or a change of activity.
Have Regular Meetings
If you work alongside co-workers or employ other members of staff, it is vital to include in your weekly schedule a workplace meeting. Even if it only takes a few minutes, meeting to share any concerns, questions, or news with all your staff is important to keep everyone in the team on the same track. Using meetings to set common goals and make sure that everyone knows what they are doing can save a lot of time that would otherwise be taken up by answering individual questions or updating each member of staff on any changes. Generally speaking, meetings are most effective at the very beginning or end of the week, although this is not set in stone.
If you work alone, you obviously will not need to have meetings with colleagues! However, you can still use some of these planning techniques yourself to look back over the past week and set tasks for the week ahead.
Have Robust and Specific Procedures in All Areas
Having detailed working procedures in all aspects of business operations can help save time as well as make it easier to stick to an organized schedule. For example, a step-by-step process for selling to customers can help you to avoid confusion and chaotic work practices. Project management procedures such as Kanban boards can help make sure that projects run smoothly and multiple projects can run concurrently at different stages without you losing track of everything. The scrum meeting format can streamline and focus discussions. Using meeting agendas can also help with this. When it comes to maintaining your company website, defined web governance procedures can save time and make sure that your website works exactly the way that it should.
Do Not Neglect Marketing and Outreach
If your business success is dependent on selling to clients and customers (which, let’s face it, most businesses are), you will need to make sure that time is taken each week to engage in marketing and outreach.
Using digital marketing strategies (e.g., SEO and PPC advertising, content creation, and affiliate marketing) can be the most effective way of gaining new customers quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively. While marketing is often outsourced, you can also learn to carry it out yourself.
Sometimes there are simply too many tasks to fit into each week, even if you plan your weekly schedule extremely carefully and efficiently. If this is the case, why not consider outsourcing certain tasks to experts? This can leave you with more time to focus on the really important tasks that only you can carry out. Business operations that are commonly outsourced include administration, accounting, marketing, HR, and cybersecurity.
Although structured timetables and organized procedures are extremely useful when it comes to carrying out business operations effectively, it is important not to let these restrict you in cases where diverging from the plan may be beneficial. The world of business can be unpredictable and being too stubborn and unwilling or unable to adapt can really cause you problems.
Keeping a weekly schedule in mind can keep your operations on track, but do not let it stop you from taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. Remember, you are in charge of the schedule, not the other way around.